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Team Formation and Performance: Evidence from Healthcare Referral Networks

Leila Agha, Keith Marzilli Ericson, Kimberley H. Geissler, James B. Rebitzer

NBER Working Paper No. 24338
Issued in February 2018, Revised in June 2019
NBER Program(s):The Health Care Program, The Health Economics Program

How does team‐specific capital affect productivity? We examine the teams that primary care physicians (PCPs) assemble when referring patients to specialists. Our theoretical model finds that team‐specific capital is greater when PCPs concentrate their referrals within a smaller set of specialists. Empirically, we find patients of PCPs with concentrated referrals have lower healthcare costs, with no discernable reduction in quality. This effect exists for commercially insured and Medicare populations; is statistically and economically significant; and holds under identification strategies that account for unobserved patient and physician characteristics.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24338

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